This past weekend was interesting to say the least. I found myself volunteering in the photo ops room for the Once Upon A Time, an ABC hit TV show that’s been running for five seasons, in Whippany, NJ. From what I heard, the photographer, Chris Schmelke, was very picky with the volunteers he lets into the photo ops room. Surprisingly, after being pushed into the room by the director of the event, Chris enjoyed having me help, so much that he asked me back for the Supernatural convention in November. But that’s not what this article is about. It’s about how the stars of Once Upon A Time put on a fan concert and that was an adventure in itself. All this because I filled out a volunteer form.
All day on Saturday, June 4, I ran back and forth between setting out photos for the guests to pick up, keeping lines steady, and chatting with the stars as they came in for their set. Chris blasted music inside the room to focus himself on getting through the line as fast as possible. As the sun went down, lines died and the crowds dispersed, leaving the select few who champed waiting for the concert to begin.
10:30 p.m. came; the lights in the auditorium were dimmed down to set the mood. Lee Arenberg, who plays Grumpy, took the stage as the MC for the night. He introduced the house band, Samurai Fish, where the lead female singer sang so gutturally and low, it sounded like a bass guitar. Lee then introduced one “Happy” fellow – get it, cause he played Happy – Michael Coleman. Now, let me just say, he can play guitar, but he cannot sing very well. What he did do was make fun of songs by pretending he wrote them, like “Let It Go” from Frozen. We’ll just say that he was the comic relief of the night.
The shining star of the whole night was Beverly Elliot, who played Granny. She is the sweetest woman you’ll ever meet. The first night, as she arrived on Friday, she complimented my red leather jacket I wore to be Emma Swan. Lee introduced her as the next Janice Joplin and I can definitely say she was spot on the moment she sang. Songs like “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac, “Purple Rain” by Prince, and a few Joplin songs were performed. There was even a song that had changed lyrics performed by Michael and Beverly about their characters from the show. The entire time this was going on, we volunteers danced our hearts out by the door. Literally everyone in the audience stared at us because we were having so much fun, Lee even pointed us out a few times.
The first encore song was a No Doubt song that I haven’t heard in years, “Just A Girl.” Let me just say, I went wild for this song. It was a blast to hear such a throwback for me. As “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge began playing, the lyrics were changed to “I got all my Oncers with me.” In the middle of this song, there came a conga line started by our director, weaving through seats as the celebrities walked into the crowd still singing. As the final song rounding its last chords and the lights turned on, the concert ended just as fast as it began.
It turns out that, though these three play certain characters on the show, their personality is completely different.
Not just them, but the rest of the cast who came, like Lana Parrilla (Regina), Emilie de Ravin (Belle), Rebecca Mader (Zelena), Sean McGuire (Robin Hood), Eion Bailey (August), and Robbie Kay (Peter Pan). They were hilarious in everything they did, whether it be panel chats with the guests about what their favorite blooper is or doing certain wild poses in the photo ops room. They’re a relaxed bunch and this concert just proved how human actors are and they aren’t their character. It was lovely to see how they acted in real life and I can’t wait to meet them again.